5 things the J&K budget can teach India

March 31, 2015 04:29 PM

"I am asserting that I shall not go with a begging bowl to New Delhi. This despite the fact that we not only have a friendly government at the Centre, we also have an exceptionally sensitive and accommodating Union Finance Minister. By doing so, I do hope to restore the dignity of the people of J & K who are forever being accused of surviving on subsidies and largesse. The goal of our government is economic self-reliance and fiscal autonomy."

- Haseeb Drabu, Finance Minister, Jammu & Kashmir

In line with the Prime Minister's intention to devolve more power and finances to the states, the seasoned Drabu, 54- economist from Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, former bank chairman, former columnist with Mint, editor of and member of legislative assembly from Rajpora, J&K-presented last week a budget that aimed at financial independence.

"I shall not seek any financial assistance or grants from the Centre other than what is provided for in the Constitution of India for all the special category states as a part of the federal fiscal system," said Drabu, author of the first budget of the People's Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance.

Here are five things that stood out in Drabu's budget:

1) Plain speaking on wasteful government

Here's what Drabu said about his own government: "To spend Rs 10,000 crore on the economy, the government is spending nearly three times (Rs 30,000 crore) that amount on the machinery that spends Rs 10,000 crore!"

J & K, along with Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi, spends more money on revenue expenditure-which includes salaries, pensions, interest payments and other money that the government spends on itself-than on capital expenditure to build assets and other infrastructure for the people, according to a state-budget analysis by the Reserve Bank of India.

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